Lush forests and endless rice fields
Day 1: Chiang Mai – Mae Kampong
Your guide will meet you at the hotel at 0800 for your hiking and biking in the Chiang Mai tour. We drive to Mae Kampong, a scenic village in the mountains around Chiang Mai. This will take about one hour. After arrival in Mae Kampong, there is time for a coffee before we take a local truck to bring us to the start of our hike. From the Kew Fin viewpoint, you have a great view of Chiang Mai and its surroundings if the skies are clear. Then we enter the Chaeson National Park.
Forest bathing in Mae Kampong’s lush forest
Today you can hike up to the summit of Doi Mon Lan, about 45 mins up, and then descend to Mae Kampong. We can also take a more accessible trail directly down to the village. It’s up to you. It’s a private trip, so we are very flexible. Although Mae Kampong attracts many visitors, few people explore the trails through the forest. We seldom meet other people. Enjoy the serenity and quietness of the forest.
Homestay in Mae Kampong
Along the way, we will enjoy a picnic lunch. After lunch, we will continue to the Mae Kampong waterfall. We descend along the waterfall, a short hike to the village. We will check into our comfortable homestay. You can have dinner on your own. Your guide can recommend a restaurant.
Day 2: Mae Kampong – Ban Thi – Chiang Mai
From the mountains to the rice fields
If you want, we can visit the local temple early and give the monks alms. Enjoy breakfast at your homestay. After breakfast, we leave the mountains and drive to Ban Thi District. Ban Thi District has beautiful countryside with rice fields and sugar palms with mountains in the background. This is the district where the Tai Lue people live. Our first stop will be a small temple on a hilltop: Wat Prathat Doi Hang Bat. A beautiful naga staircase leads to this small and seldom visited temple. Your guide will tell you the legend of this temple while you enjoy the magnificent view over the surrounding countryside. If you are lucky (as I was), you can get a clear view of the mountain Doi Suthep.
The country of the Tai Lue
We will drive to the starting point of our bicycle ride. After hiking, it is now time for biking in Chiang Mai. It is an easy ride, flat and about 7-8 km in length. We will ride through the rice fields from village to village. This is the country of the Tai Lue people. The Tai Lue people originally come from South China. About 200 years ago, they migrated to areas around Chiang Mai, such as Ban Thi and Doi Saket.
They have their language, which is similar to the Northern Thai language. Few people still speak this language, unfortunately. We will stop at several houses where people traditionally make rice cakes and bamboo baskets. We will also visit their small museum. Chiang Kham is the center of Tai Lue culture in North Thailand. After returning to where we started the ride, we continued to San Kamphaeng.
Phet Wiriya, the master woodcarver
The workshop and museum of Phet Wiriya is our next destination: the House of Many Elephants (Baan Jang Nak). Phet is the master woodcarver of wooden elephants and a gifted painter. He is a Tai Yong. His family is Tai Lue people from Muang Yong in Shan State. They are called Tai Yong.
The House of Many Elephants is one of our favorite places in Chiang Mai. You will see elephants in all shapes and sizes. The museum also exhibits beautiful paintings depicting the migration of his ancestors to Chiang Mai. After this, it is time to drive back to Chiang Mai. We hope you enjoyed our Hiking and Biking in Chiang Mai tour.